Lego Marvel Superheroes: Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat Review

8QV6vX3
There have definitely been a lot of LEGO specials over the years. It makes sense as you can never run out of ideas with those little toys. That’s why they’re so popular in the first place. What you build is limited only by your imagination and your budget. The LEGO specials are usually pretty enjoyable and most of them are fairly short as well so it’s not as if they last too long either. This Guardians special is pretty good as well and goes by very fast so I’d say that it holds its own against the other Marvel ones.

The plot is that Thanos wants to create a BLT so he needs to find the Builder Stone which will let him create anything. I would have advised him to just go to Subways but I suppose they may have run out of tomatoes again. The Guardians decide to stop him but first they will have to out fly the Ravagers as well as Ronan. Does the team have what it takes for this mission or are they doomed again?

The LEGO animation is definitely something that you either like or you don’t. I don’t really consider it as good animation as it just seems really easy and nothing particularly stands out visually. As long as the animation isn’t bad it’s not a problem though and I wouldn’t call this bad animation. These specials are more about the dialogue than anything else as the one liners have to try and use the Lego’s advantage of many things being possible to its benefit.

On that note, the writing is pretty solid. I’m not the biggest fan of the Guardians team when it comes to their personalities but the special did a good job of keeping them in check. For example, Drax can overuse his gimmick of taking things literally but I believe they only use that joke once here as opposed to spamming it in every other scene. That was pretty good and seeing him get wrecked by Thanos is a better gag. I think that’s how their fight should always go but I have a nagging feeling that he is going to be able to score the final blow against Thanos in the movie somehow or even defeat him to close his character arc. I’ll give the film extra kudos if they go the LEGO route instead.

The rest of the characters do a good job of being decent as well. Star Lord’s still a fun leader who always has a plan and the voice helps the character out even further. Gamora doesn’t get much of a role in this special but she is certainly in character as she doubts Star Lord the whole time. The team always bets against him and they are probably right to do so since he will come through when it counts but not in any other situation. Ronan and Thanos make for good villains as well. They may be fairly overused in Guardian plots at this point but it’s not as if the team has too many enemies which is why they have to keep showing up. At least it’s not a C rank villain who keeps reappearing or anything like that.

The only bad character as always is Groot. He actively tries to sabotage the team as always and the saying his name not got old years ago. He doesn’t add anything to the dynamic and only serves to take time away from the characters who could use more. At this point I’m unlikely to ever become a fan of his but you never know I suppose. Maybe all he needs is a radical change in character and design although it would basically be a different character at that point.

Overall, this special was pretty fun. It’s the length of a normal episode and has appropriate pacing. There’s never a moment where the film drags on and there aren’t a bunch of subplots to take away from the main adventure. The team fighting Thanos is already enough of a plot to hold its own special after all so it’s not like you need much more than that. Thor has a nice little cameo for his fans as well. If you haven’t checked this film out yet then you should go ahead and do so. It’s only 20 minutes so even if you don’t like it then you won’t be losing much time. The film doesn’t make any big mistakes though so at least for me there wasn’t much chance of not liking it. LEGO specials aren’t always a solid 7 but they are rarely, if ever bad.

Overall 7/10

Advertisements

Mickey X: The Contest Review

91QwpY9Tv5L
Before reading this comic I had certainly never heard of Mickey X. I’d say that I’m a pretty knowledgeable Disney fan but I suppose I still don’t know all of the spinoffs. The premise for the series seems pretty interesting as Mickey runs errands in a supernatural world filled with dangerous characters. It’s a very different take on the classic characters but one that works pretty well so far and does have a lot of potential. That’s saying something since I feel like the majority of Elseworld tales aren’t very good. At the very least it’s a fun little comic.

There are two stories in this comic. The first one is the main adventure as a bunch of mystery authors are invited to a mysterious mansion. The owner may in fact have ill intent as monsters show up and begin attacking the guests. Can Mickey and his struggling author friend save the day or will monsters conquer all? One thing is for sure, someone is going to have to step up and get the job done.

I’m always up for an ensemble of mystery authors. Even Detective Conan did something similar in one arc. Goofy (Basically it’s him) can’t write so he has to bluff his way through the meeting. I’d say he does a decent job of it since he has lasted so long without anyone finding him out. Here’s my question though. Since apparently his friend was writing all of the stories for him in the first place, why would Goofy need to go to the bar to get inspiration? It’s not like it would help at all if he simply can’t write. Maybe he was hoping that he could finally write his first book which is a nice thought but I guess it just didn’t happen. Also in case you are ever caught in such a position I’d advise you to at least write something down as opposed to leaving a blank page and conceding defeat. Even if you don’t think the story is great, half a story is better than none.

While Mickey is really the supporting character here, he does a good job of keeping up with everyone. You get the feeling that he’s not in too much danger from the monsters due to his speed and reflexes. He comes across as an adventurer in training so I’m sure he’ll get more to do in other volumes. Minnie makes for an interesting ruler since she seems to have abilities here. At the very least, she has a lot of influence and can call the shots whenever she likes.

If I had a book that turned my writing into reality, I’d quickly write that my pizza made it on time and was free. I’d probably build some kind of calorie nullifier as well so that I could finally eat all the cheese that I wanted. The monsters that the authors came up with were fairly good though so I’ll give them some kudos on that. They had good imaginations and proved that they were the real deal when it came to author skill.

The 2nd story is a whole lot shorter but it’s still pretty good. Mickey finds a camera lying around but whenever he takes a picture there is a door in the background which is slowly opening more and more. He decides not to take any more pictures just in case but it may be out of his hands now. This camera could very well lead to the end of the world! That will weigh heavily on Mickey’s conscience.

I figure that behind the door is a specter who haunts the wielder of the camera for all eternity. It makes sense and adds in a lot of tension. However, theories are all that you can make as the monster doesn’t get to appear thanks to the anticlimactic ending. I was expecting a troll moment where a happy character comes out of the door or something, not for nobody to come out. Still, it was a pretty interesting story before that ending occurred. The ending didn’t ruin it or anything, but it was just a missed opportunity. It was short but who doesn’t like an evil camera plot?

The art looks pretty good throughout. All of the character designs are sleek and the pages are easy to read with the sharp colors all around. It’s light in detail which helps the overall comic be so comprehensive but naturally more details are always a good thing if handled well. The art is basic but in a good way so I’m definitely satisfied. No real action scenes to test its mettle of course but it’s not like you would expect one here. That’s why it is important that the overall comic looks good. I say the same thing about anime. If it’s not an action series then I feel like it should be very easy to have good animation since the character designs are one of the only things you are focusing on. If you still can’t have good animation then I’m not sure what to say. So Mickey X did a good job with what it was given.

Overall, Mickey X was pretty fun. It’s a very short read but one were both stories had a good premise. The first one works quite well while the second’s ending was anticlimactic but they were both solid stories. It’s always good to see more of Mickey Mouse, particularly in his modern design/personality. Hopefully the series got many more comics because I’d be interested in reading those. I’m curious as to where Donald Duck is and what his occupation/personality even is in this version. I’m sure that no matter what he’s doing, he is still the loud and confident character that we are all used to. I’d recommend giving this comic a read and enjoying the best Goofy portrayal that I’ve seen.

Overall 7/10

Ducktales: Remastered Review

lb-ducktales-remastered-fy-tryqh-l-mtjr-ltjzy-fy-s_urwu
It’s time to look at a retro game from the good ole days. It’s pretty nostalgic when you start the game up as you still hear the classic Capcom logo and all of the sound effects are very retro. It’s like getting that arcade feeling while still having the polished graphics from a modern game. Ducktales is a solid adventure for fans of the series as well as fans of the genre and is reasonably challenging as well.

The game starts off with Uncle Scrooge’s home being broken into by the Beagle Boys. They capture Scrooge’s 3 nephews, but the old Uncle is more than a match for the thugs. Scrooge then comes across a painting which works as a map and points to some legendary treasures. He decides to go and snag all of them, but the convenience of this map does make you wonder. Is Scrooge merely dancing to the tune of an unseen manipulator or is he simply leading the charge and got a lucky break? Our fearless main character is about to find out one way or the other!

When it comes to the gameplay, Ducktales has a very simple control scheme that is easy to pick up and play, but rather difficult to master. You move and jump as you go from one stage to the other. The main gimmick that Scrooge has is his cane which you can use to jump on enemies or even on spikes. You hold the O button to take out the pogo stick while in the air, but if you decide to play on Extreme Mode then it’s a two button combination of Down and O. You typically have to find a few objects which are labeled on the map. Once you find them, then you can head to the end of the stage and face the boss. I should mention now that I’m glad the objects are clearly labeled. It would just add unnecessary duration if I had to actually search for them all and get lost a few times. It’s not as if the levels are huge, but I think that this is a reasonable accommodation for the player.

There are 6-7 stages I believe. You can choose any of them to start out with first after the tutorial level and not counting the actual final. I went in order from top to bottom but the difficulty will really depend on which boss you find the most intimidating. They are all pretty tough the first time around, but gradually you’ll learn the patterns and do better the next time. Quite a few of the bosses took me two tries. It’s hard to sit back and memorize the patterns without getting hit, but this way it’s a life well spent. Surprisingly the final boss is one of the easier ones as out of Dracula’s 3 special abilities, one is really easy to dodge and the other two are pretty manageable. He does have more health than the other bosses which helps to balance that though. It’s a good amount of difficulty that tests your strategic thinking without being overly grindy. It’s a good balance.

You start the game with 3 hearts, but there are 5 upgrades that you can find in the levels. Grab all of them and your health will really be ready for the boss fights. Upgrades are really key in this game and the last parts would have been a lot tougher without them. I found 3 on my way to the goal, but I’ll look for the other two someday. The toughest part of the game actually isn’t a boss though, but the running challenge after it. In a scene much like a Mario game, you have to outrun the lava that is quickly creeping up on you. I died quite a few times during this part as the level is quite difficult. Make one mistake and you’re done. Even if you don’t make any mistakes you can still lose if you weren’t quite moving fast enough. Just keep on doing the level and eventually you will be able to clear it.

The main campaign is pretty short so you’ll have it beat in around 3 hours or so. Add in a bit of time depending on how often you die. There is replay value as you can keep clearing levels to buy all of the collectibles and earn trophies. The trophy collecting may lose some incentive since there are no Gold or Platinum trophies in the game. It’s a little surprising. Also, you have to beat the Game on Extreme, which means beating the whole game in one siting with only 3 lives. That sounds crazy hard so I already know that I won’t be getting all of the trophies in this game. Still, I got most of them so I’m still pretty satisfied in the long run. This is really a game that you complete once or twice and move away from it so it’s just important that you enjoy the initial run.

Fortunately I can say that I did enjoy the game. The story is quite solid and the writing is great as Scrooge has a lot of witty dialogue. He’s certainly a quick talker and always has a quip for the situation. His rival also made for a good antagonist. His constant insults during the last level are enjoyable for sure although Scrooge still gets the last laugh. The witch was a good villain, but a little overpowered. Since she can just stop time whenever she likes, I don’t see how the heroes can ever truly defeat her without plot hax. She just seems to be way stronger than the rest of the cast since everyone else is powerless. They’re just ducks. Count Dracula had a nice appearance even if he was completely used as a pawn here. He didn’t even get any lines in defiance!

The soundtrack is pretty solid. The level themes are memorable and in particular the final level has a great theme. It’s definitely a soundtrack where you can tell that a lot of effort was put into it. I do miss these retro soundtracks from back in the day and Ducktales definitely hit all of the right notes. The animation also looks really good as it’s about as HD as you can get for an old side scroller. The levels all look very clear whether they are in the light or in a dark cave.

Overall, Ducktales Remastered is definitely a very fun game. It’s a short one, but an enjoyable game nonetheless. You’ll have fun mastering all of the levels and making your way to the end. It’s a game that rewards your effort and each death will only lead you closer to victory. I’d love to see another game with Uncle Scrooge since he’s such a lead. The game’s ending just proves that point all the more as he’s just a nice uncle. He helped the nephews feel like the celebration was their own as well. Just don’t ask him for any money and you’re all set!

Overall 7/10

All in a Nutshell Review

All-in-a-nutshell-original
Time for the final Chip n Dale special that I have seen so far. The little guys are still up to their tricks but once again it is actually Donald who starts the fight. He’s been stealing Acorns from them again so they decide to shut down his butter corporation once and for all. Donald had actually been pretty successful so it’s sad to see him be brought down like this.

Of course, you can’t blame the Chipmunks either. What I do blame them for is wasting a lot of butter though. A lot of bottles crash and the butter goes to waste. Maybe they were too stressed out about getting the butter and being undetected, but it just goes to show you that haste makes waste.

It is the weakest of the 3 specials though because the plot is certainly the flimsiest. As it is, to buy time for the special to end we see the Chipmunks bicker a lot and hit each other. One of them takes most of the damage as the other Chipmunk always picks on him, but they both get their share of blows in. Neither one really wants to stay down. Even after getting beaten up one is still trying to steal butter so I guess you have to admire their dedication and all. The animation is good as always. It’s the same old same old as Disney has mastered this art to a science. It’s hard to believe that every frame was drawn and that they didn’t use computers to set this all up. The amount of work behind such an undertaking is just hard to fathom and will never cease to amaze me.

I have wondered how nut butter would taste though. I’m inclined to think that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as normal butter just because nuts don’t seem like they would taste that great. It’s a pure assumption of course, but normal butter from milk makes sense. Nuts….I’m still wrapping my head around that one to be honest. Apparently Donald’s customers love it though based on how much his business was booming. If only he had gotten Chip n Dale on board with stock options or something, he’d still be a millionaire today and could have even passed Uncle Scrooge.

Overall, If you like the classic Disney specials then you’ll like this one. There’s certainly not much reason to dislike it and at least it’ll all be over very quickly either way. Donald will make or break this special for you since he’s always the most interesting character. After being with the Chipmunks for so long, I’m ready to go back to Mickey Mouse and his fun supporting cast. He doesn’t even need to steal butter since Mickey has his whole Turkey from the Christmas specials. You can’t stop a mouse on a mission.

Overall 6/10

Winter Storage Review

1949-forestier-01
Another special has Chip n Dale at it again but this time Donald starts the fight. He has started a very successful Nut Butter company by turning Acorns into butter. The problem is that he is running out of butter and business is still booming. He decides to steal the nut supply from the Chipmunks which is where all of the trouble starts. They don’t take kindly to this and initiate a counter strike where they don’t leave a single acorn behind.

To Donald’s credit he does a good job of defending himself once he knows what’s up. An intense hockey game starts up with the highest stakes possible, the nuts. Donald tries blocking the Chipmunks from slamming the nuts into their treehouse but 2 v 1 just aren’t good odds and Donald is getting roasted. He is clearly out of practice and needs to find his inner champion again.

As it is, Donald did deflect some of the nets and held his own in the skirmishes. They just overwhelmed him with the sheer amount of nuts that they were swinging around. Even then he didn’t back down and took them head in which was pretty impressive. I can’t blame the Chipmunks for their actions at all this time either since Donald is the one who stole their nuts. You simply can’t let that happen.

I’d definitely like to see some more sports with Donald and the crew. Honestly I’d probably say that Donald would even outrank Mickey in this area since he just seems the most agile. Donald definitely has the most competitive spirit as well so he wouldn’t mind roughing Mickey up a bit during the plays which would give him the edge. As long as he isn’t unfairly outnumbered like in this special, my money is always on the duck.

There’s not much to say about the animation as it’s basically the usual. Solid and streamlined as always with a lot of heart out into it. I’d expect nothing less from Disney since they always deliver. I’ll give a shoutout to the fact that they always manage to put a lot of plot into the special even with no dialogue. They definitely mastered the art of show don’t tell.

Overall, This was another pretty fun special. The Hockey Game was definitely the highlight and just made the special a blast to watch. Donald also did get the last laugh even if wha he did still helped his opponents. At least he got to go down on his own terms which isn’t something that just anyone can say. I still say that 1 on 1 Donald would have claimed victory here. He doesn’t hold back against any opponent and would have used his size advantage and competitive intensity to control the court. Nobody stops this duck!

Overall 7/10

Out of Scale Review

OUT_OF_SCALE
This is the start of the Chip n Dale triple feature. The two match wits against Donald on 3 occasions. Naturally you know who I’m rooting for as Donald just seems like a good guy…sometimes. I’m not really a big Chip n Dale fan with all their infighting and constantly getting in Donald’s way. Donald does start the fight in two of the specials but let’s put that to the side for now.

The two chipmunks were heading home for the day when they realize that it has gotten a lot smaller somehow. Little do they know that Donald has removed their tree as it was deemed to be too big and he replaced it with a much smaller one. He is trying to build a tiny sized world that he can rule. The Chipmunks enjoy it for a bit but eventually Donald goes mad with power and takes it too far. Can the Chipmunks stop him or is it game over?

The special was pretty good and squarely in the middle of the 3. For once Donald and the Chipmunks basically got along the entire time. It seems like Donald just can’t resist making a prank and that’s when the tensions start to rise. The Chipmunks do make a great peace offering at the end though so for once it ends on a happy note for everyone. I can tell you that this is certainly a very rare event indeed. The animation is pretty smooth as always. The character designs are on point and the backgrounds look realistic and cheerful. It is able to make the plots work on screen as all of Donald’s gadgets can be instantly recognized. Disney was still ahead of its time in animation at this time.

The Chipmunks almost should have kept on living under Donald’s care. They would have had a home in the winter and enough food to live comfortably. Sure, he’ll have his pranks and all, but I doubt he would do anything to wreck the house so they’re only in trouble if they go outside. It may not be an exciting life, but it could be a pretty solid one all the same. That being said, I’m sure Donald would get bored after a while so it’d be more like a hotel stay. Once the service ends it’s time to go.

Overall, you can’t go wrong with this classic short. It’s only a few minutes so the pacing is pretty tight. Even if you didn’t like the special it wouldn’t be all that bad for the same reason since it finished very quickly. I still prefer to see Donald hanging out with Mickey or Scrooge but he certainly does help Chip n Dale be more interesting as well. Donald can hold his own specials easily so throwing him with other characters is a way to bring any special up. Now a Goofy and Chip n Dale team up….let’s not even think about that!

Overall 7/10

Lonesome Ghosts Review

Lonesome_Ghosts
I always tell myself that I’m not afraid of ghosts, but watching shorts like this one reminds me that they could be deadly if they were real. Intangibility, Invisibility and reality warping are just the tip of the iceberg for this trio of ghouls. It’s really hard to deal with opponents that are this versatile and skilled in combat. It naturally makes for a good adventure though and this may be the best of the classic Disney shorts. It’s nonstop action as we get the hyped team up of Donald, Mickey, and Goofy.

The three of them are called to a haunted house to deal with a ghost problem. Mickey eagerly accepts the mission and brings along his squadmates, Goofy, and Donald. The three of them are ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way, but they’ll definitely have to use every skill at their disposal if they want to come out on top. Once they get in the house there is no turning back. Not that our brave heroes would run though, the only one who would beat a hasty retreat is Goofy and even he claims that he isn’t afraid of ghosts.

Donald is still my favorite member of the 3 and he does the best against the ghosts. He actually lands a solid haymaker. While the ghost may have quickly bounced back to mess with him some more, it was a satisfying moment. Donald also doesn’t show as much terror as the other characters. Goofy does the worst of course. While he looks so bad throughout that it is pretty funny, you just wish he could be a little more useful at times. Stabbing himself is not the way to win fights. As for Mickey, he’s determined, but he definitely felt outgunned the whole time. He’s a good team leader, but we know his group wouldn’t do too well without Donald.

The animation is consistent and looks really good. Especially when you consider just how old this special is. Disney was certainly ahead of its time in the animation department. The music is also fairly good. Perhaps it isn’t very memorable, but it gets the job done and sets the stage for the hype encounters with the supernatural. The special is only a little over 10 minutes so it definitely ends pretty quickly. While that means we don’t get to see as many pranks and shenanigans as I’d like, it also results in the pacing being quite fast. It doesn’t slow down for an instant and there is really nothing negative to say about this special. It’s a fun way to spend 15 minutes and the premise was just really good. I think it’ll be tough for a Disney short to pass it anytime soon.

Overall, If you haven’t started watching the classic Disney shorts yet, now is a good time to start. This one is very accessible for new viewers and you’ll be able to get the character personalities right away even based on just a few minutes of action. It’s also good to start with this special since you see the three big characters right away as opposed to seeing them separately for a while. It’s hard to name a more iconic trio than these guys.

Overall 7/10

Good Scouts Review

MV5BOTgxYTQ3MjktNGFlNC00MTg4LWFiN2YtYjc5N2QzMzExYjg4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNDE4OTY5NzI@._V1_
It’s been a while, but time to finally check out the next Disney special. Donald Duck always makes for a pretty good protagonist and this time is no different as he tries to survive the harsh elements of the great outdoors. Unfortunately, he doesn’t tie up his tent correctly so he gets splattered with honey and then a bear attacks him. Can Donald stop the bear and get back to teaching his nephews what being a professional is all about or is he doomed?

The special is super short as always, but it manages to capture the adventure rather well. The plot/pacing felt a lot tighter than usual which was really good as all of the scenes really had a purpose. When you have to tell a full story in roughly 10-12 minutes you really have to think through every scene to decide if it should be there or not. I can’t think of any scene that should have been removed. Donald was perhaps even more sputtery than usual as it could be hard to hear what he was saying, but it just increases the “Donald” effect that you like to see in his specials. His nephews were pretty solid this time around as well. They did at least try to stop Donald from nearly breaking his back on the stone tree. Perhaps they could have tried a little harder, but they did enough.

Donald also recovered from it pretty well which is why he’s such a good character. He took the whole thing in stride and even decided to play a practical joke on his nephews. It may have failed in every sense of the word and I’m not sure about the spelling of the ketchup (Was the word copyrighted back in the day?) but it showed that Donald was ready to spread the chaos. It just didn’t work this time around.

The animation is pretty fluid and consistent like you’d expect it to be. I do like these simple hand drawn days. You can tell that the animators put a lot of effort into it and I still can’t imagine drawing frame by frame. That just sounds like soooo much work. There isn’t much of a soundtrack in this one, but we get all of the classic sound effects for the chase scene. You could feel the desperation in Donald as he struggled to escape before realizing that it was all ultimately futile. There is just no running away from a big bear.

Overall, I enjoyed this special quite a bit. It’s easily one of Disney’s best shorts. The cast may have been a little smaller than usual, but it just meant that we got to see Donald more. I’m waiting for a special where he challenges Mickey to something like Basketball or Hockey so we could see his competitive side come out a little more. We know that Donald never gives up and is always bursting with confidence after all. Putting him in a situation like that would absolutely make for quite the spectacle. If you haven’t seen this special yet, then I’d advise you to do so ASAP. Prepare yourself for the somber ending though. Donald knows that he’s got to keep running because if it catches him….it’s game over.

Overall 7/10

Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories Review

3463307
It’s time for the next installment in the Kingdom Heart novels. This one covers the Chain of Memories game which was always a fun follow up to the original. The story was a lot more intense as you could say that the plot finally started here. This novel is quite a bit larger than the first as it has 2 Sora stories plus the Riku one. It clocks in at a clean 400 pages and makes for a pretty epic read from start to finish.

The first novel finished with Sora, Donald, and Goofy being split up from Riku and King Mickey as the latter stayed behind the door of Kingdom Hearts in order to shut it to save the world. Sora vowed to find them once more and Kairi stayed behind on the island. Unfortunately, something seems off. While the heroes were on a road, they suddenly find themselves at a castle and a mysterious individual warns that as they go through it, they will lose their memories. At the same time, they will gain new ones to replace the old memories that they have lost. Sora decides that they must press on and so the heroes continue.

You can definitely say that this is one of the toughest challenges that the heroes have encountered. What they don’t realize is that the castle is owned by Organization XIII. They are using a girl named Namine to rewrite Sora’s memories. She deletes his memories of Kairi and slowly inserts herself into them instead. She begins deleting his memories of his friends as well to the point where Sora begins to forget everything. This starts to cause some tension between the 3 heroes, but fortunately they’ve been through a lot so this doesn’t lead to any big split like in the first novel. Donald and Goofy know something is wrong, but their memories are being tampered with as well so it’s difficult to fight back. You can’t stop an opponent that you don’t even know you are fighting after all.

One of the challenges of the Castle is that Sora must revisit all of the worlds that he visited in the first novel. Admittedly, this part can be a little repetitious. Even more so since I just finished reading the first novel a few days ago. During each chapter, I would just look forward to the parts where he would leave the world and fight with the Organization XIII members. That and the new inner monologue were the most important parts. The actual worlds progressed in just about the same way as the first time around. That’s basically the point, but it doesn’t make those challenges too engaging.

Finally, Sora also has to watch out because the villains created a fake Riku to mess with his mind even further. Fortunately, Sora deals with this fairly well. He does suffer from a ton of self doubt in this novel but considering the circumstances, I suppose it makes sense. Sora’s definitely a great lead and acts as a real hero throughout these trials. Even when he finds out that Namine has been manipulating him, he decides to aid her since it wasn’t totally of her own volition and he claims that even if he never made the promise to protect her, the memory of it (Fake or otherwise) makes it real so he’ll live up to it. It’s an interesting concept and one that I can agree with. (As long as the fake promise wasn’t anything crazy) Donald and Goofy’s roles are a lot smaller here, but they’re good sidekicks to have around. They could maybe use more character at times, but as long as they don’t betray Sora or anything, we’re good.

The Riku story at the end takes place at the same time as Sora’s adventure although it ends after the first one. Since their main target is Sora, the Organization doesn’t bother to mess with Riku’s memories. They don’t even know that he has infiltrated the castle at first since everyone thought it would be impossible to escape from Kingdom Hearts. Riku spends most of the novel trying to fight off the darkness so he can be friends with Sora again, but this is a tough challenge. It’s one that becomes even more difficult once the Organization notices him. Surprisingly, he only gets about half of his own story though. Fake Riku (Replica) gets the other half as he tries to become a real person by destroying the original and taking down Sora.

I actually preferred the Riku story to the Sora one. Since Riku kept his memories, it made his experiences in the various planets feel fresh. After all, we never got to see him there originally so in that sense it was already new. Throw in the fact that Ansem, Maleficent and all of the other villains kept jumping in and the whole thing got even better. Also, as cool as Sora is, Riku’s even better. He’s the intense rival that every good series needs and he fills the role perfectly. Walking the path of light and dark is definitely only something he could do. It was also nice to see Mickey show up even if he didn’t do much til the end. As with most things in the series, it was still a little vague how they escaped and why Mickey has telepathic abilities, but we’ll roll with it. Part of the fun with the series is that the mysteries continue to grow, but the vague statements all amount to something by the end. Since I’ve already played the rest of the games, what they’re saying makes a lot of sense the whole time. I’m sure once I play Kingdom Hearts III there will be a lot of stuff that doesn’t make sense. That’s just how it goes.

Replica was also a decently good character. You can’t help but feel bad for him when the Organization forces him to have his memory wiped. At least he tries to stop them, but he was a little out of his league. The villains were also pretty good. There were quite a few of them and they all had different personalities. I do question the power levels though. The girl was able to detect Replica pretty easily, but then Sora was able to take her down for the count. I don’t think the difference in power should have been that great. At times, Sora also seems outmatched against the Organization while at other moments he seems to be out of their league. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that he should be able to hold his own against them in Kingdom Harts III. By then he will have more than enough experience needed to take them down now…as a Keyblade Master!

Overall, This was a fun follow up to the first novel. It was definitely quite a bit more epic since the gang was already together and I really liked Castle Oblivion. The repetition in the worlds was maybe a little tiresome, but that was overshadowed by the increased amount of fights in the arc. I also felt like the fights had more stakes since Sora was up against sentient antagonists as opposed to normal heartless. I expect that the novel adaption of Kingdom Hearts II will be even better and will continue bringing up the series. If you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend it!

Overall 8/10